Fragile

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The pieces sparkle when they catch the light, but in the dark, they draw blood.

Remnants of something that was shattered; something that can’t be pieced back together as it was before.

The only hope to restore its beauty to something lovely, and not jagged, is to create something new. 

A mosaic.

Using each broken piece, the old becomes new.  

The pain becomes beauty. 

What once was fragile and shattered, becomes strong and whole.

But first, it had to break.

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Fill in the Blank

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I got my little monthly $10 makeup subscription yesterday. 

The card in the picture above was included.

With each little delivery, there is always a small cosmetic bag and about 5 sample (or full) size products to try. 

But I don’t pay for a subscription to Ipsy for them to provide introspection opportunities for me.

Still, it happened.

I’ve been mulling that card over in my mind all morning. I put it on my mirror. 

And I think I’ve finally figured out how to fill in that blank.

I’m not.

Not permanently.

Because I think, sometimes, what I need to conquer today might not be what I need to conquer tomorrow. 

Today, I need to conquer some bitterness.

Tomorrow, I might need to conquer arrogance or judgmentalism or just a bad damn attitude. 

That’s why I put it on my mirror. 

Most days, at least 6 out of the 7, I’m going to look in that mirror. 

I’m going to attempt to tame the frizzy curly mess that sits atop my head. I’m going to remove unsightly facial hair. I’m going to apply moisturizer. I’m going to try and look my best and present that particular face to the world. 

The one that is put together. 

It’s not about covering anything up. Or being phony. 

It’s often about protection. An armor, not a mask.

Confidence, not insecurity.

Bringing out my best features.

As I thought about that card this morning, I also thought about the contents of the bag in which it came.

Here’s what I’ve decided. (Ipsy had no idea just how deep this gal can reflect.)

As I use the shampoo, I will think about how I can conquer my attitude when little frustrations (not unlike bad hair days) try and get the better of me. 

As I use the highlighter, I will think about how I can conquer the negativity in this world by highlighting the best in people and promoting good news.

As I use the eyeliner, I will think about how I can conquer ugliness in the world by accentuating the beauty of what is already around me. With words that already exist, I can use the writer’s pen that has been given to me to shine a light on good and lovely things.

As I apply the sparkly eye shadow, I will think how I can conquer someone else’s immediate needs by adding some sparkle to their day. With a hug. A smile. A listening ear. A validating conversation. A compliment. A cup of coffee or a lunch date. The ways are endless. And cost so little.

And as I apply the lip stain, I will think about how I can conquer my own demons that tell me these little things that I’ve mentioned don’t matter. 

I put on a lip color somewhere in the middle of my morning makeup routine. Lip color sort of ties a whole look together. That “pop” of color can make or break whatever pallete I’ve chosen. 

It’s the one cosmetic that I have to reapply throughout the day. 

And we have to keep applying goodness. Even when the news is bad. Even when we don’t exceptionally feel like it. Even when we’re tired of trying and not seeing any immediate results. Those little acts of kindness, of goodness, of grace – they are the moments that tie our whole lives together. Without them, everything else is just sort of, *ahem, “cosmetic”.

Life lessons in a tiny makeup bag. 

Goals and hopes and aspirations because of one sentence with an empty blank.

What will you conquer today?

New Year, same me

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What’s the deal wanting to be some “new” person whenever the calendar ticks over to January 1?

I’m not perfect. Sooooo far from it. But people, if you aren’t somewhat happy with who you are, you need some therapy, not a set of resolutions. 

Now granted, we can all use some improvements. But I’m a firm believer that if it’s the external that most concerns you, there is probably a lot of internal work that needs to happen first. And I’m not just saying that because (1) I’m a Psychology nerd and (2) it feeds my excuses to neither diet nor exercise.

I spent the whole of 2017 doing things for my MENTAL and SPIRITUAL health. And, I have to say, it was a resounding success. 

I didn’t get in better physical shape. I lost some weight and gained it ALL back. I even went through a few months of VERY HEAVY depression. 

But I read more.

I road tripped more.

I laughed more.

I gave in to what wasn’t and pursued what was and fell on my face and found moments to stand tall.

And I settled a bit further into my own skin.

My scarred, freckled, sensitive skin.

And you know what I discovered?

I like my skin.

I’ve drawn closer to some and more distanced from others as I’ve learned to be more loving toward myself.

I’ve put my foot down, firmly, in the face of manipulation and people trying to twist my words. I hold others accountable for what they say and do instead of constantly assuming it must be my fault. 

I’ve learned to be okay with things that I know will never change. 

Because some things are just not going to change. And I can exhaust myself trying to change others, or even change myself, but I’m learning that the key to contentment is not change, but release.

When I stop trying so damn hard, my heart becomes more malleable. I become better able to see where my attitude and mindset need to be adjusted, and stop forcing change upon myself that my brain and/or body are not ready to accept and simply let it happen. Organically. Supernaturally, even. 

As the new year starts in earnest, I feel the pressure, like everyone else, to make personal improvements. 

But instead of launching headlong into a list of things I want to do or resolve to do better, I’m just going to take my damn time. 

There’s still 355 days to walk this particular journey. 

Goals are great. Goals are important. But so is peace. 

I will not create a more anxious mind by putting impossible goals on my horizon. 

I will not strive for perfection. (Okay, I probably will, but this is kind if a personal pep talk, so lay off the judgment).

I will rest in the acceptance that I am loved, just as I am. 

I will love others, just as they are.

So if I resolve anything, I just resolve those two things. Not to be *new*. But to be constant.

Steadfast.

Longsuffering.

Especially toward myself. 

Moon Pie Madness

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How did you wrap up 2017? Did you eat a piece of the World’s Largest Moon Pie?

Uh, I did. 

It wasn’t just the 10th Anniversary of the Moon Pie Drop in Mobile, Alabama this past weekend. 2017 was also the 100th anniversary of the Moon Pie itself. 

Here is a photo of the decadent masterpiece in all its pre-cut glory:

It was certainly the freshest Moon Pie I’d ever tasted, but, alas, there was no RC Cola to be found. Just as well though, because it was too damn cold to be standing outside drinking cold beverages.

Which is why we ended up at the Royal Street Tavern for cold beverages while we waited on the other Moon Pie experience: the countdown to midnight, 2018, while a giant Moon Pie is “dropped” down the side of one of the tallest buildings in downtown Mobile.

That, is a pomegranate martini. THAT is the best drink I’ve EVER had. 

Prior to the Moon Pie fest, we dined at Wintzell’s Oyster House. 

Wintzell’s is somewhat of a staple in my agenda when I visit Mobile, but it was pretty remarkable we were even hungry because this is what we had for brunch:

A spicy southwest scramble of eggs and Chorizo with a side of salsa and tortillas.

City grits: plain grits with Gruyere and topped with tomatoes, green onions, and bacon.

The Floridian. An omelette stuffed with cream cheese and crab meat, topped with cheese and green onions. On the side? The biggest, fluffiest biscuit I’ve ever seen in my life. 

When you can’t decide between a mimosa or coffee, you compromise and get the caffeine you know you need with a shot of Bailey’s. 

Do you see these beignets? They are served with a side of orange marmalade honey. The honey was really tasty. I sat and marveled at my husband talking about how good it was. Because he didn’t know it was honey. And he HATES honey. Or so he thought. 😂😂

That missing beignet from the plate? I ate it. I was so excited that I tasted one before I thought to photograph them. And we ate ALL of them so I’m glad I remembered to take a picture at all!

I’ve never visited Another Broken Egg Cafe before this visit to Mobile, but it was so cold and rainy Sunday morning, we drove over to Fairhope for the morning and gave it a try. 

I’ll definitely be going back.

And, wouldn’t you know, in a charming little place like Fairhope, there is also a charming little book store? 

Page and Palette is complete with a coffee shop and lots of works by local authors. Plenty of unique gift ideas also, in addition to, of course, a great selection of titles. 

I’m not a late night person so in between the morning outing to Fairhope and the evening events downtown Mobile, I did something that I do most Sundays: I napped.

In style though. At the lovely Admiral Hotel.

This was the first time I had stayed anywhere downtown besides the Battlehouse, and The Admiral did not disappoint. Comfortable, clean rooms. Polite staff. It’s definitely a keeper.

For me, 2017 was a crazy year with a ton of changes. 

But I think it was so fitting that I finished my year in a way unlike any other way I’ve ever rang in a New Year. Because it reflected the kind of changes I’ve tried to make in my life over the last year. I’ve tried to stop simply letting life happen to me, and be a more active participant, creating the life I want. 

I love the city of Mobile. I never tire of visiting. Learning about new places to see, camping out in the familiar, laughing and talking to one of my favorite people. It was the best way to end a year.

And now we have begun a new year. One that, I’m sure, will hold its own set of challenges and changes. 

All I can say is:

Bring it 2018. I’m ready.

Holy Listening

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I woke up on the last day of 2017 to the sound of cathedral bells in downtown Mobile. 

“O Little Town of Bethlehem”.

After a morning out, we stopped in the hotel bar on the way back to the room to rest before our New Year’s Eve activities scheduled for later in the afternoon.

We sat at the bar, the only two patrons within range of conversation with her – the bartender.

Her name was Dasha. 

Upon first listening to her speak, I would have guessed she was from New Orleans. But the accent was actually one that had evolved over the last 20 years. 

She was born in Russia, near the Black Sea.

Shiny, dirty blonde hair slicked back into a bun. She wore very little makeup, only a bit of mascara – her glassy blue eyes sparkling with a type of hopeful innocence.

She talked about her children – all boys. About turning down jobs to be an interpreter for the U.S. government because she didn’t want to work for people she didn’t trust. 

Which is also, she said, why she didn’t donate to charities like “Blue Cross Blue Shield”. “I won’t help the rich get richer,” she said. 

Of course, she was really talking about The American Red Cross, but I didn’t correct her. I just let her talk.

She said that she wanted to help people. Homeless people and women and children. She wanted to pay it forward, because that’s the right thing to do. 

She said she had the Holy Spirit.

When she had her first son, a Christian charity helped her. The charity used a points program. If she went to a Bible study and other similar activities, she could earn points for supplies like diapers, wipes, etc. 

She earned enough points to get a car seat.

If she was going to help a charity, she said, she would help one like that. Because they had helped her. And she knew that they wouldn’t just pocket her donation.

As I listened to her talk about the charity that helped her, I began to feel anger. 

Anger at the ignorance. The feeling that someone, in the name of my Jesus, who gives love, grace, and mercy in abundance, and freely, would only give aid if someone earned “points”.

I still don’t condone it.

But then that same Holy Spirit that Dasha has, the one that I have, began to move my judgmental heart.

“What if, Allison? What if some people don’t want a handout? What if they want to feel like they earned something? What if it was through the good intentions, and not necessarily the actual acts, of the charity that led Dasha to believe in a God that is Love? Who are you to judge what you do not know? Doesn’t God see the heart, not the man?

Shhhh….just listen.”

So I did. Dasha continued to talk about the evils of “Blue Cross”. About paying it forward, helping those in need. Teaching her children about giving, not getting, especially at Christmastime.

I missed church on Sunday. 

But only the building.

Sometimes God shows up in cathedral bells on a freezing cold Sunday morning.

Sometimes He shows up in the smile of a stranger.

Sometimes He shows up in the sparkling eyes of a Russian immigrant bartender, reminding you of the simple truths that everyone needs a little grace, and that paying it forward is always the right decision.

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given;

So God imparts to human hearts

The blessings of His Heaven.

No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,

Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

Year-end Poetry 

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Writing, sarcasm, artistic expression.

Often lots of personal confession.

Parenting wins, parenting fails.

Tributes and poems and life details.

Mental health, women’s issues.

Travel, photos, book reviews.

Life in words. Lessons learned.

Growth and change and scars that were earned.

New friendships, also, while deepening the old.

All of the stories yet to be told.

Abandoning fear. Honesty first.

Second guessing whenever the truth really hurts.

Letting go of the past, forgiving transgressions.

Forgiving myself, but remembering the lessons.

Writing for fun, for documentation.

Writing for art, for proclamation. 

Records broken. Challenges faced.

What once was frightening has now been embraced.

The artist is free. Her momentum is strong. 

Finally liberated and where she belongs.

Blank pages call out, in need of attention.

A new year ahead. Much will be written.

More lessons learned. More changes wrought. 

New places seen. Reflections and thoughts. 

Best wishes to you for the coming new year.

I wish you much joy, peace with no fear.

Thank you for reading. For commenting, sharing.

Thank you for debating. Just….thank you for caring.

Oops, I did it again

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The other day, what started as an opposing opinion on Facebook turned into an argument with strangers.

Gah.

I say I’m above that mess and yet I end up not being able to just let it go.

But hey, I stew over it for a while and then I fuhgetabahtit. 

I can scroll past, unfollow, and generally keep my mouth shut for long stretches of time. And then something will push my buttons and it’ll get me all stirred up and before I know it, my gene pool starts showing and instead of calmly and collectively sharing a dissenting opinion, I’m getting angry.

In my defense, this guy, this stranger, called me a whore (in so many words) because I thought people who had claimed sexual harassment or assault deserved the benefit of the doubt. Insinuated that I must have slept around to get jobs I wanted, etc.

Bwahahahaha! I wish I could share my resume with him. Just so he could see what a joke that was. But he’d probably just then insinuate that I was bad at sex. And then post a funny gif. Because this was all a joke to some folks until I wouldn’t shut up. Then they got hostile. And well, I may or may not have told this person to piss off.

It’s sort of a pattern with me, I guess. Because I generally only get really vocal and snarky and passionate and in-your-face when it’s women’s issues that come up.

Maybe it’s because I am a woman.

Maybe it’s because I have a low tolerance for ignorance.

Maybe it’s because I would rather stand up alone for other women than keep quiet and let the ignorant feel better about their denial that sexual harassment and assault are wide spread problems. 

Did you know that I could have been having consensual sex with my husband for the last 11+ years, but he could still rape me? 

But who would believe me? I mean, I was a willing participant at one time, right?

I wish I could say that I was going to be better in the new year. But I know better than to make promises I can’t keep. 

People are stupid. And for the last couple of years, while I’ve been learning about myself, and making peace with some of my old demons, I have, as Negan so eloquently said on The Walking Dead, grown a nice healthy set of “Beach Ball size lady nuts.”

And I’m not scared to use them. 

“Snowflake”, my ass. Fragility ain’t in my repertoire.

Look out 2018. 

Well, I won’t back down

No, I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down

No, I’ll stand my ground
Won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground

And I won’t back down
(I won’t back down)
Hey, baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey, I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down

Well I know what’s right
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground

And I won’t back down
(I won’t back down)
Hey, baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey, I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down

Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey, I won’t back down
(I won’t back down)
Hey, baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey, I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down
No, I won’t back down

Winding down

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Facebook gave everyone a cute little video recently, showing their “year in review”, as it were. I found it kind of interesting that, despite the logarithms they probably used to pull these different memories, the “new friendships” it showed me that I formed in 2017 were all with other writers.

Here too, at WordPress, I have begun forming friendships with other writers and artists over the last several months. 

I have found, as I reflect over 2017, that my year has been tremendously impacted by these connections. Sometimes, I’ve sought them out. Other times, they have found me. Either way, I feel like my support system has grown in very important ways.

Because I’ve come to grips with two realizations this year about myself: I am an artist and I am an empath. My soul needs to create and my intuition is real. 

In other words, it’s okay for me to call myself a writer and I’m not as crazy as I used to think I was – I’m just…..me. 

I have found, through artistic mediums mostly, a network of other people like me. People I can relate to and vice versa. And that is priceless. 

It’s not that my friendships or connections with other people have always been shallow up until this year. Quite the contrary! I have just….found more of my people. I can recognize it in their art, their speech, their humor. It’s…..comforting.

I feel less alone. 

Because I have found that I can be surrounded by people and feel all by myself. Until I started seeing things in other people that made me realize I wasn’t. 

I was not, in fact, “too sensitive”, “too emotional”, or “intense”. 

I’ve been in a place of self-doubt and insecurity. Off and on. My entire life. Until I began to understand myself, my strengths, and heal some past wounds.

What has resulted, even though it’s an ongoing process, is someone that is much more autonomous. Someone who is much happier because she knows herself.

I’m starting to get some clarity about the reasons behind my most frequent causes of frustration. 

I take more time to process these days, instead of immediately reacting.

It’s not about just reacting or not, it’s about when and how.

I take time, in general, for me. Something I’ve not really done before, not like I have this year.

I’ve reached some new levels in relationships. I’m closer to some people. Not as close to others. Sometimes making purposeful withdrawals because I know my limits and I recognize most emotional leeches when I see them now. 

Most New Years Resolutions seem to center around self, and improving it. Often it is physical transformation that people are working toward.

I’ve done a little of that too. But I’ve prioritized mental and emotional over physical. And it was the right choice for 2017.

There are some major things ahead in the coming year. My child will become a high school freshman, get a driving permit. I have nieces and nephews starting senior year while others are moving on to college. 

There will be change. That’s the one thing that stays the same. 

But, if I haven’t accomplished anything else this year, I did the best thing I could have done; I’ve shored up my foundation.

I’ve eliminated some things that made it wobbly. I’ve added some support. And I’ve found some ways to start practicing the ever-elusive art of balance. The struggle between letting life happen and being an active participant in it. I’ve been doing a lot more of one or the other, as the situation prescribed. Being flexible to what I needed to do. Stopped fighting other people’s fights and concerning myself with my own. 

I stepped away from the familiar and embraced the open road, taking several little day trips and short getaways with people I love.

I started my book club. Simply put, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I stood up for myself in little and big ways. Persisted.

I wrote some things that I’m HELLA proud of. Things that were HARD. Things that scared me to not only try and address, but to share publicly.

I took some time for ME. Not just a manicure here and there. No. A full day of just spending time with myself and getting some solitude.

That cute little Facebook video gave the tiniest snapshot of all that 2017 has been for me. By the end of a year, I typically feel depleted. Just ready to turn a page and try again. But 2017 was a transformative year. And I feel like it gave me so much. I don’t feel depleted at all. 

I feel renewed. Accomplished. Satisfied.

My plan is to start 2018 the way I’m closing 2017: determined, thankful, hopeful, and with open hands. 

Using The “F” Word

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Feminism

1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2 : organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
— feminist play \ˈfe-mə-nist\ noun or adjective

As I reflect on 2017, what I learned, mistakes I made and would like to not repeat (or the ones I would like to make again – depending on the situation!), in general, it’s a time of meditation and letting whatever was significant sort of rise to the surface.

I wrote, several times, about women’s issues this year, or something that tied to current events regarding feminism. I share all of my posts on my personal Facebook page and, I will say, those particular posts got a mixed bag of responses.

In general, when you talk to another woman, one-on-one, they will likely agree that there are still huge strides to be made in the pursuit of economic, social, and political equality. But many of them will go into hiding when it is mentioned publicly. 

Lest they be called….the F Word.

And it might as well be THE “F” word, for all of the negative connotations it holds among certain people. 

I grew up hearing it associated with extremism. Making it out to be a bad thing. Mocked. 

And yet, here I am, a big ol’ “Feminazi”, trying to take over the world, castrate all men, and never make another dinner for my family ever again.

Please tell me you heard the sarcasm.

If you don’t get anything else from this blog, and reading my drivel, I hope I have made you see, as other writers have helped ME see, that many times, our preconcieved ideas are not necessarily correct.

I hope that, if you know me in person especially, when you read some of my more passionate posts about women’s issues, or depression, or religion – that the character you know me to have does not line up with the notions you may have always held about certain things, and you begin to see a different perspective. I hope it makes you think. Reconsider. And maybe even question your own position on things from time to time.

I hope.

But I really don’t think I’m that good of a writer.

And I know how deeply ingrained people’s biases can be. 

But I do it anyway.

Because, truth be told, I’m not a “protester”. I guess, if push comes to shove, I can be. I would be. But while I believe in public demonstration, I think the thing that changes people’s hearts and minds is a more intimate approach. 

That’s how my heart and mind have transformed over the years.

It wasn’t loud voices, but quiet ones, and the deafening sound of personal experience that made me realize the definition of feminism was not something ugly or shameful.

It was working, full time, for the last 20 years, and seeing for myself that the wage and promotion gap is, in fact, quite real.

It was seeking custody of my daughter and watching other women lose their children over things that a man would have gotten a slap on the wrist for if the roles were reversed.

It was getting pregnant at 16.

It was having serious and significant reproductive health problems.

It was seeing the inequality and hypocrisy of a religious denomination that will allow women to do literally ANY AND ALL OTHER types of work within the church, but finds them unfit to preach the gospel.

It was becoming a boss this year, supervising another woman, and knowing that I had become partially responsible for another female and her livelihood.

It was working with other women for the last 20 years, hearing their stories.

It was being sexually harassed on the job.

It was having a daughter of my own.

It’s been a LOT of things that have brought me to a place where I claim the title of “feminist”.

But mostly, it was a combination of all of the aforementioned things. Personal encounters with the “system”, but more importantly, with other women, that brought me to the understanding that feminism was not a dirty word. 

Quite the opposite, in fact. 

It is a word that should be celebrated and imprinted onto the heart of every young girl. 

I look back on this year, and I see progress, though not how many women expected or hoped it would come about. But progress is happening. If in no other way than by the unity of women (and men) rising up together and calling out abuse and harassment. Stepping out of the shadows. Finally realizing who we can trust to have our backs.

I have hope. I see a future for my daughter that includes opportunities for not just economic choices that I might not have had, but a new freedom of expression that no longer has to be so cautious, sexual harassment policies that might actually be enforced, and victim shamers being the ones forced into silence.

But there is still work to be done.

And some of that work is what I’m trying to do here, when I write about women’s issues.

I’m trying to dispel the myth of the F word. 

The one that says, “Feminists are just a bunch of angry women who wish that they were men.”

Can I just say, for all of the aggravations that accompany it, being a woman is….quite amazing?

I’m proud to be one. I’m proud of the sisterhood of other women that I have forged over the years and that it continues to expand.

And I’m not angry. I can GET angry. Gender equality does light a fire under me.

But I’m not inherently angry. I, and thousands upon thousands of other women, we’re just tired. And we’re fed up. 

And that’s not anger – that’s the result of hundreds of years of being treated less than.

Oh we have made so much progress, but to be content in that is to become the opposite of vigilant. And I think that’s why we have seen a surge of powerful demonstrations by women this year. When you have a man of extreme chauvinism in the highest place of power in the nation, there is a compelling force within those of us who have been dealing with that type of attitude all our lives.

That force is what propels us forward and stirs us to action. To march. To come forward and share our experiences, consequences be damned. To write. And to not let one man, one election, slow our roll.

It was a hard hit. It was a sickening blow to watch someone so disgusting and blatantly sexist take the White House. But good is coming from it. Progress is often born of adversity. Of pain. Of discomfort. 

And we’ve seen women take back something for themselves this year. 

We might have a long road ahead politically, economically, to gain real equality, but at the very least, there is finally, finally, some light being shed on problems that should have never been hidden in the first place. 

There are finally some eyes being opened.

And some of the voices being heard were kept silent for far too long. 

I applaud their bravery. My heart hurts for the pain and shame they bore. And I link arms with them.

When I think about the F word, I don’t think about Gloria Steinem or Hilary Clinton or Gloria Allred.

I think about my mom. How she did the work of 3 people in our house, when I was growing up. 

I think about my sister, raising her family and making sacrifices to be a stay at home mom and follow her heart.

I think about the single moms I know, who have been screwed over and abused not only by a former spouse, but by a system that has failed them.

I think about the female coworkers I’ve had, who’ve had to work twice as hard and 3 times longer to be considered for and receive promotions that it has taken younger and more inexperienced men a fraction of the time to achieve.

I think about the women have encouraged me and helped me navigate the waters of being a working mom.

I think about both of my grandmothers, and how they defied the status quo in their own lives. Working and having a career before pursuing marriage. Going back to school and having a career AFTER marriage and 4 children.

I think about my priest, and other women of the cloth I’ve observed and gotten to know over the last couple of years. How they’ve breathed new life into my faith.

I think about all of the women I know that have experienced loss and heartache, who have picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and forged ahead. Alone. And reinvented themselves into something stronger and more stunning than ever before.

I think about my nieces, cousins, little girls of friends. I think about what I want their future to look like.

I think about my daughter. I think about the example I set for her in my actions and attitudes.

I never want her to be complacent, but neither do I want her to be cynical. 

I just want her to be hopeful. 

These are the women I think of when I think of “Feminist”. 

It’s not a dirty word. It’s beautiful. Underestimated. Misinterpreted. Inspired. 

I claim it, and wear it proudly. 

*photo credit to my cousin, Amy – one of the best feminists I know. Thanks for living by your own rules, and inspiring me to dig deep and do things that challenge me. Love you.

Seasonal Happenings

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Holiday joy still happening here. 

#dickens

We’re having a Christmas movie marathon of sorts and have successfully gone through:

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 

*side note: my holiday isn’t officially kicked off until I see Chevy Chase get nailed in the face with the attic ladder.

Elf 

A Christmas Carol

Tonight….I’m thinking, Christmas with the Kranks. 

The Christmas Carol version we watched this year was the one Jim Carey did for Disney many years ago. 

We took Reagan to see it for her birthday when it was released in theaters, and she never wanted to see it again. It freaked her OUT.

At the time, I thought she was just being the dramatic little diva she can be, but after watching it again (because I only saw it the one time) I can see why it upset a younger child…

Ah well, parenting fail. We all have those. So she may never read Dickens. There are worse things.

I do have to say, though, this particular version was brilliantly done. I don’t think it gets enough credit for how dramatic it is, and the social justice implications that it holds. Jim Carey is one of those talents that is a kaleidoscope of possibility. His interpretation of so many of the characters from this beloved story is exactly what it needed to be told to a new generation. If it didn’t scar them too much in the process.

I’ve seen a lot of cutesy versions in my lifetime. And I appreciate them driving home the message in a way that can be related to by all ages. But the true Christmas Carol was NOT a lovely, neat-and-tidy kind of tale. 

Aren’t we so good, as humans, to sanitize things and make them into something more digestible and easy to live with?

#apronlife

The weekend was full of holiday baking. 

My mom was down with the flu, so our annual holiday baking extravaganza was cancelled and I was left to my own devices.

Which, on the whole, wasn’t terrifying so much as disappointing. I mean, I DO know my way around a kitchen. I definitely missed her company, though. I did, however, make travel arrangements for her, my grandmother, sister, and myself for late February. Yay!!!! Something to look forward to!!

But, back to the baking.

We (mom and I) always make these homemade cinnamon rolls…..and….I’ve never successfully attempted them on my own.

But the di was cast, and it was time to put on my big girl panties, er, apron, and give the attempt my best effort. For Mom, and for Narnia!

I dove headlong into that pastry recipe with all the gusto of a seasoned professional. When that yeast started bubbling, my anxiety started subsiding, and when my dough actually doubled like it was supposed to, I knew I was in the clear! 

I did it! All by MYSELF!!!! It’s only taken me a decade to get to this point! 😂😂😂

Look how pretty….

It’s not that this is a super complex recipe, I just don’t do well with….chemistry in baking. So I was super proud. Also because I was supervising Reagan’s baking project while trying to remember how many cups of flour I had already used. It’s really pretty impressive that these turned out.

We did a couple of simple things also, like…..

Firecrackers

And some traditional, rolled in sugar cookies before we do the ones decorated with royal icing.

All in all, the holiday baking went off without a hitch and I was way less stressed this year because I didn’t have the half a dozen gifts yet to buy weighing on the back of my mind. Because I’m DONE. 

Yes, me. Ms. Procrastinator extraordinanaire was finished (with the help of Amazon Prime) with more than a week to spare. *Mic drop*

#brunching

My book club, the Monday Night Page Turners, decided, since we were late meeting in November and everyone is so busy in December, that a holiday brunch and gift exchange would be fun.

So, instead of our usual gathering and book discussion at my house, we carpooled into the big city on Sunday and had the loveliest of brunches at Table 100.

When there is a Mimosa/Bloody Mary bar, it kind of made this venue the obvious choice for our celebration. 

In addition to the fabulous atmosphere and cozy corner table, we were entertained by a jazz trio that came around and played requests. Someone with our party suggested “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, and the bass player actually hit a few licks before convincing us all to do a Jingle Bell sing-a-long, which he said, and I have to boast, that we were the best table he’d had to do so. 

Just look at us. As one of our members exclaimed upon our exit (and she swears it wasn’t ONLY due to her cocktails): “We are freakin’ delightful”.

I have to agree

The food was to die for. I ordered the brisket and eggs and didn’t leave a scrap on my plate.

My Bellini wasn’t bad either, but it tasted more like a Mimosa. No complaints, just not what I expected.

I don’t usually attend or host holiday parties, except for the one that my employers holds each year. But this was an idea I could get behind: A group of people I thoroughly enjoy, eating food someone else made while making a mess someone else must clean up. 

And I tipped our server handsomely. Because he was “freakin’ delightful” also, and made our celebration all the merrier.

#backtowork

Yesterday it was back to work, but only for 5 days. Then it’s a long weekend and lots of quality time with my family. They’re even saying we have the slightest chance of snow on Christmas! That would certainly top off one of the best Decembers I’ve had in recent memory. 

But even if it doesn’t, I’m content with the fact that at least it’s not going to be a balmy 78, but an appropriate 40ish degrees on the big day. 

Happy Holidays indeed! I’m enjoying the heck out of mine.